How a dog saved my life in Elden Ring

I’m out of flasks. Here I am, on my tenth run on the same boss, and I’m out of bloody healing vials and they have a third of their health bar left. I take a few hits and am ready to write off another run when something magical happens. My own health refills at lightning speed and two of the most joyful words in any Souls game flash. Post appreciated. Not only that, it happens all the time, a new burst of health every time I land a few hits until I finally knock the bastard down. I won, and I have half the world to thank for it.

I’m sorry. I have a dog give thanks for that. Minor spoilers ahead.

Good boy

Starting with Demon’s Souls, From Software games allow you to scribble cryptic messages – guides, jokes, warnings, and secret clues formed from a list of predefined words and phrases. Over time and through generations of releases, a sort of vocabulary has developed from these messages, which Elden Ring continues with gusto.

Every inch of The Lands Between is covered in graffiti teasing that this wall in particular is a secret wall (hint: they almost never are). Every statue, sleeping NPC, or fuzzy ass on a rock will be tagged with “try a finger, but a hole,” which is all the more absurd given Elden Ring’s disturbingly finger-oriented plot.

But Elden Ring also brought a new meme. See, unlike the bleak, abandoned worlds of Lordric, Lothran, Yharnam, and others, the Midlands are teeming with life—not just monsters and vicious creatures, but harmless animals that just go about their lives. And collectively, the Elden Ring community has stated that no matter their shape or size, every one of them is a dog.

That crab hiding behind the rock? Dog. Those eagles sitting on the rock? Dog. Did that pack of dogs bite your leg off? Don’t be a fool, these are no good boys – that honor is reserved for the turtles, who by nature are immobile creatures in Elden Ring, should never be left without a message informing passers-by that it is in fact a dog.

In order not to miss the fun, I started leaving my signs next to the good boys. It never occurred to me that aggressively distributing dogs around the world would be a viable strategy for getting past FromSoft’s killer mitts.

Tarnished’s best friend

See, here’s the most important part of the whole thing. When you stumble upon a post, you can upvote or downvote it. In addition to controlling how likely it is to appear in the world, voting will also give the writer a full health boost wherever they are. The Souls games have always done this as an extra little incentive to get you to help others, one of the ways the game offers respite from brutal combat.

And readers, people Indeed like dogs.

When logging into the game to take the above screenshot (at 11:00 UK time on a Monday, hardly peak hours), I got four scores within a minute. Whether I’m putting myself through a painful run with corpses or banging my head against a boss, I consistently get health rushes when I write “Dog” or “Dog!” or “Praise the dog!”.

Naturally, the top-rated posts are legitimately helpful or devilishly misleading, garnering thousands for taking lost players into the game’s few real hidden walls or providing vital strategies against the toughest bosses. My dog ​​posts, by comparison, only have about 30-40 ratings apiece—hardly what we in the business would call viral.

But every time someone breaks out, I don’t just get a second wind, I remember exactly who plays these games. Souls players have a reputation for being slightly miserable, deadly serious hardcore gamers obsessed with “abomination”. But the Souls games aren’t just for them – they’re also for people who enjoy seeing each other confidently declare that every creature under Erdtree is actually a dog.

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